Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam: Former President of India
  Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam    
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10-12-2002 : Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi
Empowered Human Life

I am indeed delighted to participate in this function to mark the Human Rights Day. I congratulate the National Human Rights Commission for having organized such an important function. I have been visiting various states and meeting children and people of all walks of life including those who have been affected by communal clashes, poverty and un-employment. Is the perception of human being different when looked from an individual, national or global angle? The future wars are rarely going to be between nations. But it will be between nations and smaller groups. There will only Proxy wars. Today, human rights are being attacked in such proxy wars beyond humanitarian levels.

Today's world in 21st century is being haunted by the international terrorism which is worse than the Kalinga War and Second World War for the reason that it subjugates fear and insecurity in the entire human community. We have been repeatedly witnessing such human rights violations: during the WTC attack, during an attack on the Indian Parliament, during the Moscow theater siege, during the Indonesian Bali hotel attack, during several plane hijacks and more so while mightier countries declaring wars unilaterally ignoring united nations. What are we doings, the great creations of God? Is it possible to realize a society in which standard human being is a reality? Kalinga war waged by the Emperor Asoka brought death to three lakhs people and million injured. But it gave birth to ahimsa dharma. Second world war resulted in nuclear warfare killing millions of people but gave birth to United Nations. Code of war ethics and human rights in war was evolved symbolizing the elevation of human civilization standards and concern for fellow human beings. Unlike conventional wars, where war ethics have been defined in Geneva convention, in proxy wars, code of conduct is not in sight. But innocent human beings do get caught in the cross fire and die. Will the planet earth at any time see a no-war situation at least in future? It is indeed a big question. With this background can we evolve the creation of a standard human being?

A Standard Human Being

The evolution of human society has followed the path from agricultural society to industrial, information and the present day knowledge society. In agricultural and industrial society, humans and machines dominated the warfare. In the information and knowledge society, intellectual capacity would dominate. Intellectual domination is represented by ideologies, principles and faiths. Whenever they cross paths between individuals, societies and nations, the human rights are violated. The suffocation and loss of human rights by the present generation of people due to the backwardness induced economic status or pushed down by caste differentiation or frustrated by denial of timely justice at affordable cost is the right cauldron from which revolution will start giving birth to standard human being. The road map for graduating into a standard human being will have to include

a) education with value system,

b) religions graduating into spirituality

c) removal of poverty and economically strong nation

d) responsible judiciary & human rights

I believe, a standard human being can be created when all these four elements are properly combined.


a. Education with Value System

The best part for a person is his or her learning period in school childhood. The prime learning environment is 5th to 16th years' of age. Of course at home, love and affection are imparted. But again most of the time in a day is spent in preparing school's homework and study, eat, play and sleep. Hence the school hours for children are the best time for learning and need the best of environment and mission oriented learning with value system. During this stage, they need value based education in school and at home for them to become good citizens. This reminds me the echo from Bestolozzy, a great teacher's saying, "give me a child for seven years. Afterwards, let the God or devil take the child. They cannot change the child." For parents and teachers, school campus and home have to have an integrated mission: education with value system. If the child misses the value based education in the school, no government or society can establish a transparent society or a society with integrity.


2. Religion Transforming Into Spirituality: Universal Mind

I would like to recall an incident which happened four decades ago. As you all know, Prof Vikram Sarabhai is the visionary of space programme in the country. He is well known for his cosmic ray research area that led to evolving the space research programme for the nation. Both Dr Homi Bhabha and Prof Vikram Sarabhai were looking for a site to establish space research station in the equatorial region. These two great scientists visited a number of places. Thumba in Kerala was selected by the scientific community for space research as it was near the equatorial region and was ideally suited for ionospheric research in upper atmosphere apart from study of atmospheric structure. When Prof Vikram Sarabhai visited Thumba, the locality had series of villages and thousands of fishermen folk were living in that area. It also had a beautiful ancient church, St Mary Magdalene Church, Pallithura and a Bishop's House. Prof Vikram Sarabhai met many politicians and bureaucrats to get the place for the work of space science research. It did not move further because the nature of the place. He was asked to see the Bishop of Trivandrum, at that time in 1962, His Excellency Rct Rev Dr Peter Bernard Pereira. It was a Saturday when Prof Vikram Sarabhai met the Bishop. The Bishop smiled and asked him to meet him the next day, ie Sunday. In the morning Service, the Bishop told the congregation, "my children, I have a famous scientist with me who wants our church and the place I live for the work of space science research. Dear children, science seeks truth by reasoning. In one way, science and spiritualism seek the same divine blessings for doing good for the people. My children, can we give the God's abode for a scientific mission?" There was a chorus of 'Amen' from the congregation and the whole church reverberated. Subsequently, the big event took place in 1962. His Excellency Rct Rev Dr Peter Bernard Pereira, the Bishop of Trivandrum, took the noble decision to dedicate the church in recognition of the national goal for the establishment of the Indian Space Research Organisation at Pallithura, Thumba. That was the church where we had our design centre, started rocket assembly, design of filament winding machine for FRP product and the Bishop's house was our scientists' place. Later, the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS) led to the establishment of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) and multiple space centres throughout the country.

When I think of this event, I can see how enlightened spiritual and scientific leaders, all converge towards giving reverence to the human life. New church and new schools were established in record time. Of course the birth of TERLS and then VSSC gave the country the capability of design, development and produce world class huge rocket system and subsequently, India has the capability of launching geo-synchronous, sun-synchronous and meteorology spacecraft, communication satellite, remote sensing satellite thereby provided fast communication, weather forecasting and also locate water resources for the country. Today, among us, Prof Vikram Sarabhai is not there, Rev Dr Peter Bernard Pereira is not there, but those who are responsible for creation and make the flower and blossom will themselves be a different kind of a flower as described in the Bhagwat Gita: "See the flower, how generously it distributes perfume and honey. It gives to all, gives freely of its love. When its work is done, it falls away quietly. Try to be like the flower, unassuming despite all its qualities". What a beautiful message for all generation of this nation, on integration of minds and universal mind.


3. Removal of Poverty through vision for the nation

People who are economically or socially in the lower strata are vulnerable to human rights exploitation by those who are in the higher strata. One way to reduce this exploitation is to narrow this divide. In our country, 340 million people are below the poverty line. After five decades of progress, the aspirations of people are rightly mounting that India should become a developed country. This is the second vision for the nation. How can we prepare ourselves to this challenge? India has to be economically and commercially powerful with near self-reliance in defence. Our target should be a GDP growth of 9-11% annually and that the people below poverty line to be reduced to nearly zero. This would also include providing of sufficient employment opportunities to the physically and mentally challenged. How are we going to achieve this?


Five mega projects to transform the nation to a developed country

Technology Vision 2020 is a pathway to realise this cherished mission. The Technology Vision 2020 consisted of 17 well linked technology packages in the core sectors. We have identified five areas where India has a core competence for an integrated action: (1) Agriculture and food processing (2) Reliable and quality electric power and surface transport for all parts of the country. (3) Education and Healthcare (4) Information and Communication Technology (5) Strategic sectors.

These five areas are closely inter-related and if well done would lead to national, food, economic and security. A strong partnership among the R&D, academy, industry and the community as a whole with the Government departments will be essential to accomplish the vision for a developed India.


Majesty of Human Rights

Every citizen in the country has a right to live with dignity; every citizen has a right to aspire for distinction. Availability of a large number of opportunities to resort to just and fair means in order to attain that dignity and distinction, is what democracy is all about. That is what our Constitution is all about. And that is what makes life wholesome and worth living in a true and vibrant democracy. At this point, I would like to remind all of us that at social levels it is necessary to work for Unity of Minds. The increasing intolerance for views of others and increasing contempt about ways of lives of others or their religions or the expressions of these differences through lawless violence against people cannot be justified in any context. All of us have to work hard and do everything to make our behaviours civilised to protect the rights of every individual. That is the very foundation of the democratic values, which I believe is our civilisational heritage and is the very soul of our nation. Judiciary is the guardian of civilised life. Wherever life exists in our planet, no life, by any body can be allowed to be devalued. Particularly, judiciary cannot be a mute witness to this in-human act.



When the child is empowered by the parents, at various phases of growth, the child gets transformed into a responsible citizen. When the teacher is empowered with knowledge and experience, good young human beings with value systems take shape. When individual or a team is empowered with technology, transformation to higher potential for achievement is assured. When the leader of any institution empowers his or her people, leaders are born who can change the nation in multiple areas. When women are empowered, society with stability gets assured. When the political leaders of the nation empower the people through visionary policies, the prosperity of the nation is certain. When religion transforms into a spiritual force the people become enlightened citizens with value system.



Human Rights : Does it mean Reverence for life. Empowered mechanism of human right protection through creation of standard human beings would ensure survival of a prosperous democracy. Judiciary is an important component in making the role of the standard human being effective. Judiciary is not simply making judicial pronouncements or enforcing law in a case. Judiciary is the whole process of interpreting the social, political, economical and human rights to ensure that that wholesome life with dignity and distinction is sustained. In this effort, National Human Rights Commission becomes the eyes and ears and an impartial authority and work hand in hand with judiciary.

The edifice of natural justice to protect the human rights today stands exalted. , high on a pedestal that the whole world looks up to. The fundamental and over-riding importance of the system cannot be overstated and the need for constantly maintaining its purity not forgotten. There cannot be any erosion of values, corrosion of quality or any cobwebs in the procedure. The majesty of human rights has to be maintained with magnanimity and magnificence. The members of National human Rights Commission therefore become inviolable role models, the perfect incorruptible ideals of a civilized society. That is what we have to strive for, attain and sustain.

My best wishes. May God bless you.




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